Whaddya Mean, Eat Fat to Lose Fat?

stirfry_600The responses to my presentation on our very low carbohydrate diet and my blog Celebrating a Lighter, Leaner Janaia share one outstanding feature: many people don’t seem to GET what our eating pattern is and isn’t.

  • This diet isn’t about protein. (Yes, you need moderate complete proteins.)
  • This diet isn’t about calories. (No, all calories aren’t the same. The body deals with carbohydrates differently from proteins and very differently from fats. We pay no attention to calories).
  • This diet isn’t about replacing vegetable oils with saturated fats (yes, it’s important to do that, but that alone is insufficient).
  • This diet isn’t just about eating fewer carbohydrates, especially grains and sugars (yes, you do that, but it’s not the whole story).

This diet is about changing your metabolism. Changing how your body fuels itself. It’s about switching out carbohydrates as the primary fuel — becoming ketogenic. When you drop the carbs, you don’t trigger insulin to store those carbs as fat.

With those carbs reduced, you compensate by increasing your quality saturated fats (like butter, coconut oil, animal fats) to give you the right amount of energy.

This is where the mind goes crazy, because all of our cultural programming says that’s what NOT to do to lose weight. Eat fat to lose fat? — hah!

Except it works.

This is the ketogenic diet. The researchers say it takes about two or three weeks to shift to being keto-adapted if you sharply drop the carbs. That worked for me following The Six Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle. It will take longer if you taper down your carbs, as Robyn did.

The ketogenic diet appears to be what 99.9% of our ancestors thrived on, before agriculture introduced more plant foods, especially the cereal grains.

We don’t feel the same in this new metabolism. It’s hard to describe. It’s subtle. I don’t feel hunger the way I had when carbs ran the show; it’s more a quiet sense of “oh I could eat now” rather than “I AM HUNGRY!”

Carbohydrate cravings diminish or disappear — although it takes listening to your body to find your carb threshold. If we eat more carbs than our threshold, carb cravings will kick in. If a particular food feels addictive, it probably is and we must be mindful to not eat it or to limit quantities (nuts can be this way for us).

We eat smaller portions (those fats have a lot of concentrated energy!) We stop eating because we feel satisfied, not because we’re full. Satiated, not stuffed.

So this is not a diet to lose weight and then return to “normal” eating. This is a diet for life. It means preparing food yourself, buying foods differently, taking along “survival” food when traveling or are out for a few hours, and being selective at restaurants and potlucks.

Want to learn more? Here’s a good summary of what goes on in your body in the ketogenic diet.

Upcoming: What Foods Do We Eat?


  1. Janaia,
    Welcome to the club! I also follow a similar diet (Paleo/Primal). You might be interested in reading these websites:

  2. Ed Adamthwaite says:

    Hi Janaia,
    I have been experimenting with different diets and varying the carbohydrate contents and found that as long as you keep a varied mix of foods to ensure good nutrition, it is the carbohydrates that have the greatest impact on weight gain.
    For instance, my usual daily intake of:
    Serving size: 972g
    Ave per Ave per
    Serving 100g
    Energy 7101kJ 731kJ
    Protein 137g 14.1g
    Fat, total 135g 13.9g
    -saturated 39.5g 4.1g
    Carbohydrate 48g 4.9g
    Sugars 8.1g 0.83g
    Fibre, total 13.2g 1.4g
    Sodium 3122mg 321mg

    Notice that it has 48g of carbohydrate which gets you into the ketogenic state where you lose weight. If I add 4 crackers per day with jam or honey and reduce the peanut butter and oil to keep the energy at the same level it takes me one week to put on 1.5 – 2 Kg!
    My day job as a software designer for the food industry is not very active so the lower kilojoule intake for me as an adult male doesn’t have a great impact.
    Of course this is in no way a valid scientific analysis but I’m sure that it gets the idea across.
    This backs up what you have found. Mr Taubes, Atkins, Keith et al are definitely on to something.

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